Several men in my life* have sent me word of a former female soccer player at LSU who is trying out to be a kicker on the football team.
Obviously this is not soooo out of the ordinary. Many people know of the story of Katie Hnida, who actually entered college with intentions of being a kicker on the football team. After a troubling (to put it mildly) time at Colorado, Hnida went to New Mexico where she became the first woman to put points on the scoreboard in a DI football game.
So Mo Isom is not going to have that "first" opportunity. But it seems that she has a lot more support than Hnida received (at least when she was at Colorado). LSU coach Les Miles is giving her a fair shot at a spot on the team. She has had access to LSU football staff as she goes through the tryout process.
What I find interesting is the reporting on the story.
This is the headline from one of the links I received. It is from The Advocate, which seems to be a local paper out of Baton Rouge.
LSU Homecoming Queen to try out for football team
Despite the headline, the article starts out with Isom's accomplishments on the soccer field. She was the team's goalkeeper and has been involved in national team development programs. Isom acknowledges that there may be some naysayers. And the comments sections of the above article supports that view. Several comments have been removed for violation of the site's commenting policies. But, reading other responses to said comments, it appears they were pretty misogynist and reactionary.
In short, despite the headline and some talk of her homecoming queen title, the article pretty much focuses on her athletic abilities and history as well as her personal history and overcoming physical challenges (she was in a traumatic car accident).
The second link I received was to a Yahoo sports column where the headline focuses on the coach:
Les Miles has 'no reservations' playing female kicker Mo Isom
Good that Isom's name is in the headline, at least. Obviously the reaction of the coach is huge in a situation like this--especially given Hnida's history with Gary Barnett. The photo accompanying the story is of her as homecoming queen rather than as a student-athlete. But the mention of her reign is later in the story--as it was in the previous link. Also included is an embedded You Tube video of Isom scoring a goal (in soccer) as a keeper from 90 yards out--a feat that earned her a lot of internet attention at the time.
The comments section has a range of responses. General sexism and misogyny and then some sexually violent responses about how she will last until the team hits the showers for the first time. Nice. Also comments on how letting a woman play would turn the SEC into a sissy conference.
I obviously have not read all the media coverage about this story. But what I saw was pretty decent. The comments, however, reveal what is at stake when the masculinity produced and enforced by football culture becomes a little less secure.
* Oh, I guess I do have men in my life! Still--please don't buy me sports memorabilia.